symbols often transmit even more information than the words leaders use.
We communicate nonverbally in three ways—through our actions, thru
symbols that do not involve actions and through our voice.
Body language, eye contact, gestures and facial expression affect the
meaning listeners attach to a message. For that matter, any movement or
action carries meaning. Studies show followers both listen better and
understand the message better when leaders use effective eye contact.
This is true for two reasons. Leaders appear more interested in their
followers and they are perceived by followers as being more credible.
Body language and gestures that communicate openness, friendliness, and
concern cause followers to be more receptive and understanding of the
leader’s message. Finally, smile—look alive and involved—and you will be
a more successful communicator and leader.
Leaders’ personal appearance, things they consider important and being
on time all communicate meaning. For example, if a leader has an
appointment with followers at noon, but arrives 15 minutes late, the
leader’s tardiness may adversely affect how the followers interpret the
leader’s comments. If leaders dress inappropriately their message may
suffer. General disinterest in followers communicates the lack of
importance the leader attaches to them. Effective leaders are conscious
that such things affect their message.
The voice carries
is this truer than in the leader/follower relationship. If you have a
dog, try an experiment where you say the following phrase using
different vocal tones: “You are sure a dumb dog to do that.” First say
it in the most loving gentle way as you smile and stroke the animal.
Next say the same words with as little vocal meaning and expression as
possible. Finally scream the words in the meanest way possible. Notice
the difference. The voice carries much meaning irrespective of the words
used. Leaders work hard to use their voices effectively.
Leaders must pay
attention to their nonverbal behavior.
Leaders must be